Wednesday, August 12, 2009

US Federal Deficit As Percent Of GDP- Data, Statistics, and Inference in Argumentation

There's been a great deal of discussion recently about the national deficit. Of course, in real dollars, the deficit is as high as it has ever been (see top graph). But, because of inflation, that is sometimes misleading. Rather, a better measure (bottom graph) would be the deficit as a percentage of the Gross National Product (GNP). It is the use of data and it's application that is very important in developing critical thinking skills. This has very important consequences in terms of how we think of curriculum and how we want children to reason, debate, and present an argument.

Picture: U.S. debt from 1940 to 2008. Red lines indicate the public debt and black lines indicate the gross debt, the difference being that the gross debt includes funds held by the government (e.g. the Social Security Trust Fund). The second chart shows debt as a percentage of U.S. GDP or dollar value of economic production per year. Data from U.S. Budget historical tables at

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